For years, the phrase Working From Home has held different meanings, depending on who you asked. For some, it was their full-time work situation, ala a remote office. For most others, it was a temporary work option for household hiccups, like a rogue dishwasher in need of a repair or to care for a sick child.
Then, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became nearly synonymous with Shelter in Place, as businesses and corporations of all sizes complied with government mandates and our homes became a safe haven to ride out the unknown.
Now months into the pandemic, many people’s homes remain their place of work, and the office water cooler has become our kitchen sink. Coping with this abrupt change has created many unforeseen challenges for employees and their families. It’s putting our relationships and our Wi-Fi to the test. And finding quiet video conferencing areas is becoming a new pastime.
But there’s one thing you may not have thought about during your scramble to set up a home office – your safety. Cords in new places, uncomfortable chairs and inactivity are new workplace hazards to consider.
We hope these best practices from OhioHealth experts will help you address the changing demands of your work life, while keeping your safety and wellness top priorities.
Prep your workstation
Working from a makeshift desk at home can quickly become uncomfortable, and lead to sore wrists, neck and back pain. To ease your discomfort, try these proper ergonomic set-up suggestions:
- Adjust the top of your monitor screen to just below eye level. Use a monitor riser if necessary.
- Position items directly in front of you.
- Use a copy stand to decrease neck strain.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor or supported on a footrest.
- Adjust room lighting to prevent screen glare. Add a task light or close blinds if needed.
Prep a safe environment
Now that your home office setup will be used daily, it’s important that it is also safe and secure.
- Avoid overloading outlets by using surge protectors.
- Never run cords under rugs or carpets.
- Use proper wattage for lamps and lights.
- Check smoke alarm batteries.
- Keep water away from workstation and electronics.
- Remember to turn off all electronics at the end of the day.
The pandemic has raised awareness of how critical self-care is for your mental and physical health. And it applies to your nine-to-five! Simple stretch breaks or desk workouts throughout the day can make a big difference in comfort and your ability to remain focused.
The 20/20/20 Rule is helpful for mind-body balance:
Blink/breathe/break every 20 minutes, and look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
For more ideas, check our desk exercises.
Creating a routine and setting boundaries with your family can help establish the difference between work time and home time.
Lastly, don’t forget to move about! Working at your designated home office can be productive, but a change of location can prove invigorating.
Switching from your desk to a sunroom, or even your dining room table, late in the afternoon can give you a little energy boost. And this break from the ordinary may give your team a new conversation starter for videoconferences.
With the tips mentioned above, working from home can be comfortable, productive and most of all, safe!
Be sure to check out more strategies for working from home on the OhioHealth Blog.